Thursday, October 29, 2015

Mushroom Bisque

Today, I made up a pot of mushroom bisque from the Moosewood Cookbook.  I took some liberties with the recipe (as always!).  Instead of dry sherry I used Japanese mirin and added some worchestershire sauce as well as the soy sauce.  I also used a cup of yogurt instead of the milk in the recipe as well.  The addition of beef broth or homemade stock makes this soup even richer.

The recipe as written--

Mushroom Bisque

2 medium potatoes, (each the size of a person's fist)
1 1/2 cups of water  to cook the potatoes
2 cups chopped onions
1 1/2 TBSP butter
1 small stalk celery (I used 2 stalks, we like celery)
1 1/2 lbs. mushrooms, sliced (I found some chanterelles in our grocery store at a "reasonable" price so bought 1/2 lb. of them along with 1 lb. crimini mushrooms)
1 - 2 tsp. salt
1 or 2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. dry thyme
3 TBSP dry sherry
2 tsp. soy sauce
1 cup milk
 4 cups beef broth(my addition)
ground black pepper to taste

1) Chop potatoes into small pieces and place in a small saucepan with the water.  Cover, bring to a boil and simmer until the potatoes are tender.
2) Meanwhile, melt butter  in a heavy bottomed Dutch oven or soup pot.  Add onion and celery and saute over medium heat for about 5 minutes.  Stir in the mushrooms and salt, cover and cook about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  At some time during the 10 minutes of cooking, add thyme and garlic.  Remove from heat, stir in sherry, soy sauce and pepper.
3) using a blender, food processor or stick blender, puree the potatoes in their cooking liquid.  Blend the mushrooms in their own liquid.  Combine the two purees and add milk and/or beef broth to thin the soup to the desired consistency.
4) Sitr and heat gently.  Taste to adjust seasonings.  Serve hot, with croutons and minced green scallions or chives.  Enjoy!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Green Chili Chicken Enchilada Casserole

Tonight's dinner is an easy one - Green Chili Chicken Enchilada Casserole.   I like Hatch Green Chili Enchilada Sauce - 2 15 ounce cans are used for this recipe.

You will need:

1 whole chicken cut in parts or 4-5 chicken breasts
12 corn tortillas
2 cans of Hatch Green Chili Sauce
8 oz. monterey jack cheese or cheddar if you prefer, shredded

Boil the chicken in water for an hour or so (add a peeled onion, carrot and celery stalk for more flavor).  Remove the chicken pieces to a bowl and cool.  Cool all that good chicken broth and freeze it for soup.

When cool, remove the chicken from the bones - you should have about 4 cups of shredded chicken.

Lightly oil a 9" by 13" baking dish.  Place 4 TBSP of enchilada sauce in the bottom of the pan.  Top the sauce with 4 tortillas, break them up as needed to cover in a single layer.  Top with 2 cups of the chicken.  Top the chicken with 1/3 of the cheese.  Top that with 1/3 of the remaining sauce.  Add another layer of tortillas, then chicken, cheese and sauce.  Add another layer of tortillas, top with remaining sauce and remaining cheese.  Bake in a 350F oven for 30 minutes until the cheese is melted and the casserole is heated through.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool 10 minutes. Serves 6 generously.  Add a green salad for a complete meal.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Chocolate Sourdough Cake

Oh we do like our cake here on Orcas Island, especially chocolate cake.  Here is an easy sourdough chocolate cake that is really good with some vanilla ice cream or a couple of spoons of plain ol' yogurt.

Chocolate Sourdough Cake
Preheat the oven to 350F.

Prepare a 10 inch tube pan by greasing the bottom with butter and placing a circle of waxed paper on the bottom to fit the shape of the pan (make a hole in the center of the waxed paper to fit around the tube pan ‘neck’.  Grease the waxed paper as well.  For a
“prettier” cake, you can use a bundt pan, grease the inside and “neck” with butter and then dust flour in it (or cocoa powder if you wish) to cover the butter.

Sift and mix together in a medium size bowl -  200 grams all purpose flour
                        6 grams baking powder
                        6 grams baking soda
                        5 grams salt
optional – 1 tsp. Cinnamon
            ¼ tsp. Ground cloves
            1/8 tsp. Cayenne
(these give the cake a Mexican chocolate taste)

and set aside.

Melt 170 grams of semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips in the microwave 2 minutes or so, stir to a smooth consistency.

Melt 113(1 stick) grams of butter in the microwave .

In a large mixing bowl, place 180 grams of 166% hydration starter from a starter that has been fed the night before.

(To make about 180 grams of starter at the proper hydration use 60 grams whole wheat or all-purpose flour, 90 grams water, and 30 grams starter, let set over night at room temperature).

To the starter, add the melted butter and mix well.  Add the melted chocolate and mix well.  Add 3 eggs, beat well.  Then add 200 grams sugar and 2 tsp. Vanilla.  Beat for 100 strokes until smooth and creamy.  Incorporate the dry ingredients into the batter. 

Then add 120 grams of boiling water, slowly mix and then whip to a creamy consistency. 

Place the batter in the prepared tube pan. 

Bake at 350F for 40 to 50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean.
Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool for 10 minutes in the pan on a wire rack.  Take the cake out of the pan, peel off the waxed paper on the bottom and continue to cool the cake until it is completely cool.

You can make a cake glaze with 4 oz. Chocolate chips, ¼ cup of butter and 1 teaspoon light corn syrup melted in a small bowl in the microwave.  Allow the glaze to cool to room temperature.  Drizzle over the cake, or alternatively split the cake into two rounds and place the glaze in the middle of the cake.  Serve with ice cream, whipped cream or good quality yogurt.  Enjoy!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Coconut Macaroons - so easy!

I made 2 fruit tarts recently and from the process of making the tart shells, I had 4 eggs whites leftover, just enough to make a batch of coconut macaroons.  I found a recipe online, but then after buying the flaked and sweetened coconut I noticed there was a recipe on the back of the package, so I ditched the online recipe and decided to go with the recipe on the package.  I was not disappointed.  The only thing I will say is keeping your hands damp during the shaping of the macaroons will ease the stickiness factor.  I didn't dare touch anything in the kitchen until I was done shaping the macaroons.

The recipe -

Coconut Macaroons

1 package (5 1/3 cups) flaked sweetened coconut
4 eggs whites
2/3 cup sugar
6 TBSP. flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. almond extract (optional, I made mine without this and they were fine)

If you like your macaroons with a toasty coconut look, spread the coconut out on the silpat (or parchment paper) lined cookie sheet and bake in a 350F oven for 5-10 minutes until the edges are toasty.  Place the toasted coconut in a bowl and proceed with the rest of the recipe.

Preheat oven to 325F.
To the coconut, add the sugar, flour  and salt.  Stir to coat the coconut with the dry ingredients.  Add the egg whites and stir to combine.  Shape tablespoons of the mixture into balls and drop onto a silpat lined cookie sheet.  This recipe will make 24-36 macaroons depending on how big you make them.  Bake in 325F oven for 20-25 minutes, until the egg white looks set and the cookies no longer have a 'shiny' look.  When done, remove the cookies from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool.  You may dip the cookies in chocolate for an added treat or drizzle with chocolate, that is if you can keep from eating them up.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Indian Samosas - YUM!

Yesterday, for the kayak splash and dash meeting at Cascade Lake, Michael and I made samosas.  They are little snack foods in India that are filled with any number of different fillings, from ground lamb to vegetables, and fried.  Here is the recipe along with a recipe for tomato and dried apricot chutney to serve with them.

From the cookbook "World of the East Vegetarian Cooking" by Madhur Jaffrey

For the Pastry:

1 ½ cup all-purpose flour (you can use whole wheat flour if you prefer)
¼ tsp. Salt
4 TBSP butter

Sift the flour and salt into a bowl.  Add the butter to the flour and rub it with your fingers until the flour resembles fine bread crumbs (you can use a pastry cutter, if you like).  Add warm water (must be warm!) a tablespoon at a time and begin to gather the flour into a ball.  It will take at least ¼ cup of water to start and then add more water as needed to form a soft ball of dough.  Knead the dough until smooth and combined.  It should be a soft pliable dough.  Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.  The dough can be made a day ahead and stay in the fridge.

For the Stuffing:

4 medium sized potatoes, boiled, then cooled, unpeeled and cut into ¼ inch dice
4 TBSP. Vegetable oil
1 medium onion, peeled and minced
1 cup shelled fresh peas or 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1 TBSP peeled ginger, minced
1 fresh hot green chili (I used a jalapeno, but Serrano peppers work too)
3 TBSP finely minced cilantro
1 ½ tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Ground coriander
1 tsp. Ground cumin
¼ tsp. Cayenne
1 tsp. Garam masala
2 TBSP lemon juice or 1 TBSP lemon juice and 1 TBSP amchoor powder (another option is to use tamarind paste in place of the amchoor or the lemon juice)

Oil for deep frying
Extra flour for rolling out the dough

Heat the oil in a large frying pan with a lid (at least a 12 inch skillet) over a medium flame.  Put in the onion, stirring and frying until the onion is a light brown color.  Add the peas, the ginger, green chili, cilantro and 3 TBSP of water.  Cover, lower heat and simmer very gently until the peas are cooked.  Stir every now and then and add additional water if needed.  Now put in the potatoes along with the cumin, salt, coriander, garam masala, lemon juice and amchoor.  Keep the heat on low and mix the spices with the potatoes.  Cook gently for 4 minutes stirring frequently.  Taste the mixture and add salt or lemon juice to your taste.  Turn off the heat and allow the mixture to cool.

Take the dough out of the fridge and knead again to soften it.  Divide it into 12 equal sized balls.  Keep the balls covered with plastic wrap. 

Place a small bowl of water on your work table.  Lightly flour a pastry board.  Flatten a  dough ball on the pastry board.  Then roll the flatten disk to a 6 inch circle.  Cut the round in half with a sharp knife.  Pick up one half of the round and form into a cone by moistening one half of the cut edge, overlapping ½ of the cut edge over the other by ¼ inch. press together to ensure a good seal.  Hold the cone open like an ice cream cone in your left (or non-dominant) hand.  Place 1 TBSP. of filling in the cone.  Moisten the top edges of the cone and bring them together, pressing to seal them.  Fold the top edge over about ¼ inch and seal shut, again using a small bit of water to moisten the dough and seal the edge. Place the samosa on a cookie sheet, that has been lined with a well floured tea towel to prevent sticking.  Continue in this fashion to shape all the samosas.

Heat oil for deep frying in a wok (about 2 ½ inches deep) over a medium low flame.  Fry the samosas slowly (4 or 5 at a time) until they are a golden brown.  As they are done, place them on a rack or dish that has been lined with a paper towel to absorb any excess oil. 

Samosas may be served at room temperature or they may be served warm.   They can be made a day ahead, refrigerated in a flat plastic container and then reheated on a cookie sheet in a 350F oven.  Serve with a chutney of your choice.  Traditionally they are served with a spicy chutney like a tamarind mint chutney. 

Mrs. Rama Chakravarty’s Tomato Chutney (Timator Chutney)
From the cookbook "A Taste of India" by Madhur Jaffrey

Serves 6 (makes about 2 cups)

1 inch cube of fresh ginger, peeled
2 TBSP vegetable oil
½ tsp Panchphoran (a mix of fenugreek, fennel, nigella, black mustard and whole cumin seeds- available at an Indian grocery market)
2 whole hot, dried red chilies or 1/4  to 1/2 tsp cayenne
6 good sized cloves of garlic, mashed to a pulp
1 lb. tomatoes, chopped
½ cup sugar
1 tsp salt
4-5 dried apricots, cut into ½ dice
2 fresh hot green chilies (serranos work well, jalapenos will be milder), chopped

Cut the ginger crosswise, into very fine slices.  Stacking several slices, cut them into very fine slivers. 

Heat oil in a heavy-based pan over a medium flame.  When hot, put in the panchphoran.  Let the spices sizzle and pop for a few seconds.  Now put in the red chilies.  Stir once and put in the ginger and garlic.  Stir for about 5 seconds.  Now put in the tomatoes, salt and sugar.  Simmer on a medium to medium-low flame until the chutney begins to thicken, about 15-20 minutes.  Add the apricots and green chilies.  Simmer and cook on a low heat for another 10-15 minutes or until the chutney is thick and has a glazed look.  Remove the whole red chilies before serving. Serve at room temperature. 

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Trying a New Cheese Recipe

Each week I receive three half gallons of Coffelt Farm whole raw milk.  I use one half gallon to make our yogurt for the week and the other 2 half gallons are used to make various cheeses.  So far I've made a couple of batches of brie, some quieso da vinho(wine soaked cheese), romano, manchego, traditional cheddar and caraway gouda as well as the usual mozzarella and ricotta salata.

This week I decided to branch out and try a new cheese, fontina.  The recipe comes from a book called 200 Easy Homemade Cheese Recipes by Debra Amrein-Boyes.  It is a great book, clear and concise with good instructions for the beginning cheese maker.  I actually prefer it to Ricki Carroll's book.

In any event, Sunday is cheese making day here, so without further ado, here is the recipe for fontina that makes 1 lb. of cheese.

1 gallon milk
1/8 tsp. mesophilic (I use MA4001) starter dissolved in 1 TBSP water
3/16 tsp. calcium chloride in 1 TBSP water
3/16 tsp. rennet(do not use Junket) in 1 TBSP water
1 quart saturated brine(18% salt)

To begin, sterilize all equipment.  I use Starsan for any equipment I cannot or do not boil in boiling water for 10 minutes.  I place 1 inch of water in my cheese kettle and put in my curd cutting knife, balloon whisk, and slotted cheese stirring spoon.  I bring this to a boil  and boil 10 minutes. Remove the boiled implements and place on an impeccably clean towel to dry.  Empty the kettle and cover it to maintain is sterility.   Let the pot cool to room temperature.

Place 2 quarts of hot tap water in a canning pot. Put the gallon of milk in the cheese kettle and rest it inside the canning pot to make a double boiler.  Place a thermometer into the water in the canner to monitor its temperature.  Place the whole apparatus on the stove. Keep the water in the canner at about 100F in order to slowly heat the milk in the cheese pot to 88F.

Once the milk has reached 88F, add the mesophilic starter and stir gently with an up and down motion to mix thoroughly.  Let the milk rest for 1 hour at 88F, adjusting the water bath as necessary and removing the cheese pot as needed to keep an even temperature.  I generally monitor the temperature every 10 minutes and adjust as needed to keep to the 88F temp goal.

After 1 hour, add the calcium chloride and stir gently.  Add the rennet and stir gently.  Let the milk sit for 45 to 50 minutes in the cheese pot, covered.  Again maintain the 88F temperature.  This may not be as difficult because the chemical reaction of the rennet does generate some heat.  Again, I monitor the milk every 10 minutes to be sure it's not too cold and place the pot back in the water bath if necessary.  Keep the water bath at 100F to be sure it can heat the milk when needed.

Meanwhile, heat a quart of water to 145F for use later to 'wash' the curds.

After the 45 minutes when the milk in the cheese pot has coagulated enough to give a 'clean break'   (that is when you lift a small bit of the cheese with the curd knife, the edge of the break is distinct and not soft/runny looking).   Cut the curds into 1/4 inch pea-sized dice using your curd knife.  Make cuts horizontally, vertically and then at a 45 degree angle underneath the curds in all four directions(north south east west).  Let the curds stand for 5 minutes to strengthen.  Then stir gently with the balloon whisk for 5 minutes being sure all the curds have been cut into the small dice, then continue stirring but with the slotted cheese spoon.

After stirring for 10 minutes, using a ladle, remove 4 cups of whey from the cheese in the pot.  Replace the whey with enough water at 145F to bring the cheese to 102F.  Stir gently for 10 minutes.  Let the curds rest for 5 minutes.  Then, pour the pot of curds and whey into a cheesecloth lined colander over a large pot to catch all the whey.  You can use the whey in cooking or use it to fertilize plants. Blueberry bushes love the extra acid and plant food.  Let the cheese curds drain for 10 minutes, cover them with the whey pot lid to keep them warm.

After 10 minutes, place the curds into a 2 lb. cheese mold, lined with butter muslin or cheese cloth.  Put the cheesecloth lined followed on top of the mold and using a cheese press, press for 15 minutes with 10 lbs of weight. At the 15 minute mark, remove the cheese from the mold and cheese cloth.  Flip the cheese over, gently and put it back in the cheese cloth and mold.  Press for 12 hours with 28 lbs of weight.

After the 12 hour pressing, remove the cheese from the mold and soak it in the saturated brine for 12 hours, turning it after 6 hours.

Once the 12 hour soak is done, remove the cheese from the brine and dry it out on a cheese mat all at room temperature.  I usually cover the cheese with 2 layers of cheese cloth so no 'beasties' get into it while it is drying. Dry it for 24 hours turning at least once.  When dry.  Place the cheese in a ripening box and store at 55F-60F 90-95% humidity (I place a wet paper towel in the ripening box with the cheese to maintain the right moisture level.)  After three days and every other day thereafter for the first month, wash (gently pat) the outside of the cheese with a simple brine solution, turn the cheese over for even flavor development and drying.  (Simple brine solution - 1 tsp salt in 1 cup boiling water cooled to room temp).   Wash and turn the cheese two times a week for the next 2 months.  After the three months, you may wrap and refrigerate, use when you like it.

Monday, September 1, 2014

San Joaquin Sourdough Bread in a Dutch Oven-Camping In Style

For the past 5 months, my husband and I have been living in a yurt on Orcas Island as our home is being built on the same property.  It is an adventure every day.  Today's adventure was baking bread in a dutch oven over charcoal.

I had been thinking about making this bread for several months as its process lends itself well to a lifestyle with few utensils. I did use a Brod and Taylor proofer to maintain temperature for the bread during the fermentation periods.  The recipe for this bread can be found on, a wonderful site for all things bread related.  We used a 10 inch dutch oven when baking the bread and brought the temperature to 450F before placing the loaf in the oven.  The bread baked for 30 minutes with a 180 degree turn of the dutch oven about half way through baking to ensure even temperature.  I also improvised on the timing once the loaf was taken out of the fridge from its overnight rest.  I left it out at room temperature for an hour, shaped the loaf, then placed it in a well floured cloth lined bowl and fermented it for 1 1/2 hours at 72F before baking.

Here's the resulting loaf -

The crumb on the loaf is glossy and open -

This is a very flavorful loaf due to the addition of a small amount of dark rye flour and its 12 hour 'nap' in the dorm-sized refrigerator overnight.  We will be enjoying this with some chicken soup later this evening.  Bon Appetit!